Searching for Casemiro's perfect partner: Eight midfielders Man Utd should consider signing this summer

Mac Allister Casemiro De Jong GFX
Casemiro is finally back for Man Utd in the Premier League after a four-match suspension but he needs a proper midfield partner for next season

Manchester United solved a long-running problem when they signed Casemiro last summer.

The team had been crying out for a world-class midfielder and fans were getting increasingly frustrated by the much-derided 'McFred' partnership of Scott McTominay and Fred.

The former Real Madrid man has revitalised the team and United must be relieved to have him back for Sunday's visit to Nottingham Forest after serving a four-game suspension as they often suffer without him.

But their midfield problems are far from being solved and Erik ten Hag must find a suitable partner for Casemiro, 31, who can learn alongside the Brazilian and then take the baton from him as leader in the middle of the park for the future.

Christian Eriksen has been a good value signing but he too is 31 and does not have the physique to go the distance in intense matches.

McTominay and Fred meanwhile are decent squad players but if United want to compete for the Premier League title any time soon, they cannot be regular starters.

Marcel Sabitzer has impressed recently and has got amongst the goals but he is also approaching 30 and is not a long-term option.

GOAL takes a look at the midfielders United should be targeting to give Casemiro the partner he deserves.

  1. Alexis Mac Allister: power and flair

    Alexis Mac Allister: power and flair

    The Argentina international has been one of the stars of Brighton's barnstorming season and would be a brilliant signing for United.

    He is excellent at winning and distributing the ball and would also be an asset at free-kicks and corners, areas United have struggled to score from this season.

    He has also remarkable fitness and stamina and is deadly in the area, which allows him to balance his defensive and offensive responsibilities perfectly.

    United are reportedly keen on snapping up the 24-year-old, who, despite Brighton's recent success, is on the lookout for a bigger club to match his ambitions.

  2. Frenkie de Jong: the one Ten Hag wants the most
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    Frenkie de Jong: the one Ten Hag wants the most

    United spent most of last summer pursuing De Jong, who turned into one of the world's most exciting midfielders while playing for Erik ten Hag at Ajax.

    Ten Hag felt De Jong's passing and creativity would be key to him being able to play the football he wanted to at United and the club even agreed a £71 million fee with Barcelona, who were keen to cash in on the Dutchman to finance their big-spending summer.

    However, the club could not convince the midfielder to swap the sunny climes of Barcelona for the rainy north west of England last year.

    One year on, the Dutchman has become even more important in Xavi's side and last month reiterated his desire to stay in Catalonia.

    But the 25-year-old is still the ideal player for United and Barca's financial situation remains dire, with La Liga president Javier Tebas warning they cannot sign players in the summer unless they increase their income.

    If the price were right, United could still get their man.

  3. Declan Rice: the key to more possession

    Declan Rice: the key to more possession

    The England midfielder has stayed loyal to West Ham despite interest from bigger clubs but his time at the London Stadium is surely coming to an end.

    Arsenal are reportedly leading the race to sign the 24-year-old but United should try and give them a run for their money.

    Rice is one of the top holding midfielders in the world and could run United's midfield for the next five years.

    Ten Hag wants United to have more of the ball and Rice would certainly help them achieve that due to his ability to intercept and hold on to possession.

  4. Moises Caicedo: an anchor for the next decade

    Moises Caicedo: an anchor for the next decade

    The Ecuadorian could potentially rule United's midfield for the next decade as he is only 21.

    He has anchored Brighton from deep over the last 18 months and was seen as so vital to Roberto De Zerbi's side that the Seagulls rejected a £60 million bid from Arsenal for him in January.

    He is of a similar profile to Casemiro and there is an argument to make that United should be looking for a more attacking player to complement the Brazilian.

    On the other hand, his value is only going to keep on rising and getting him this summer would ensure United are in safe hands when Casemiro begins to get beyond the peak of his powers.

  5. Ryan Gravenberch: a former Ten Hag protege looking for a way out

    Ryan Gravenberch: a former Ten Hag protege looking for a way out

    Like De Jong, the 20-year-old grew up at Ajax's academy and was blooded in the first team by Ten Hag when he was only 16 years old.

    He was a crucial part of Ajax's last two Eredivisie title wins, scoring five goals and contributing 10 assists across both seasons.

    Bayern Munich snapped him up for €19 million last summer but the move has been a huge disappointment, with Gravenberch starting only one Bundesliga match this season.

    He would be a very affordable option for United if Bayern and the player are willing to cut their losses and Ten Hag loves to sign a player he knows he can trust.

  6. Youri Tielemans: bags of class and confidence for free

    Youri Tielemans: bags of class and confidence for free

    The Belgian is available for free this summer when his contract expires and has the class and confidence to make the step up from Leicester to United.

    He is a really creative player who provided 10 goal contributions in each of his previous two seasons, although he has experienced a drop off this campaign, hampered by injuries which have limited him to 19 league starts.

    He has long harboured ambitions of playing for a top-four club and at 25 would be a good long-term option.

    Given the price of the likes of Rice and Jude Bellingham, the fact he is available for free makes him a hugely tempting prospect for United.

  7. Ruben Neves: long passes and remarkable shooting range
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    Ruben Neves: long passes and remarkable shooting range

    The Wolves captain has been on United's radar for some time and, like Tielemans, is available for free in June when his contract expires.

    The Portugal midfielder has a superb passing range and an ability to score from distance, netting 15 Premier League goals in his last three seasons.

    He would complement Casemiro well although his lack of pace could be a concern.

  8. Jude Bellingham: too expensive...unless Sheikh Jassim gets his way

    Jude Bellingham: too expensive...unless Sheikh Jassim gets his way

    Bellingham is the dream option, the most coveted midfielder in the world due to his attacking and defensive qualities.

    Like all top clubs, United would love to sign the 19-year-old.

    But the reality is he is too expensive for the Red Devils, and according to reports the Glazer family are unwilling to spend £120 million on just one player, especially after the club's debt recently rose to £535 million.

    However, there is a remote possibility of United getting Bellingham, though it depends on Sheikh Jassim winning the battle to purchase the Red Devils.

    The Qatari billionaire, who is jostling with INEOS to buy the club amid a third round of bidding, has pledged to make United debt free and has promised to show real ambition in the transfer market.

    Beating Real Madrid and Manchester City to Bellingham's signature would be a real statement of intent and the type of coup any new owner would relish.

    But with the takeover process dragging on, United signing Bellingham does look to be more of a pipe dream than a serious prospect.